By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Kerryon Johnson got in the flow of things in his first college start, and it showed.
The Auburn running back rushed for 84 of his team-best 94 yards in the second half, and scored a late touchdown to give the Tigers a chance in Saturday's 19-13 loss to Clemson.
"That was my first time getting in a rhythm here, the fans starting to get behind you, the O-line starts to get into a rhythm, the QB starts to get in a rhythm, the sidelines get in a rhythm," Johnson said. "That was my first time running that many times here. It felt really good."
Johnson jumped to the top of the running back charts in the offseason after the departures of Peyton Barber, Roc Thomas and Jovon Robinson. He'll be there again when Auburn plays Arkansas State at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Johnson had two carries in the first quarter against Clemson, but he was ready for the rest of the game, finishing with a career night in yards, with those 94, and in carries, with 23.
"I knew that coming in that I wasn't going to have as many touches throughout the first quarter," Johnson said. "I had to make up for it in the second, third and fourth."
Johnson said the offense improved throughout the game after sizing up Clemson. "They did a lot of different things up front. They did a lot of twists… that's hard to figure out and it takes a while to figure it out. But once we did, we got rolling."
Auburn relied on Johnson. Fellow tailback Kamryn Pettway played sparingly and didn't get a carry. Freshman tailbacks Malik Miller and Kam Martin didn't play.
Thank you to all the fans that supported throughout the whole game!
— Kerryon Johnson (@AyeyoKEJO) September 4, 2016
Johnson, whose best game before Saturday was 36 yards against Kentucky last season, scored on a 9-yard run after taking a direct snap with 3:22 remaining. One possession later, Auburn was throwing into the end zone hoping for the win.
Johnson said Auburn's defense helped make that so.
"We held them to 19 points," adding that his defense "gave us every chance to win the game."
Close finish. "That just says how good we can be," Johnson said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine